Morito's Cretan Salad
"There is nothing better than a fresh, juicy salad. I love the Cretan version as it has the perfect crunch that comes from the barley rusks, the creaminess that comes from the fresh curd and the saltiness from the olives and capers. Of course I love it; its what I was brought up on. The grated graviera is not very common but it fits perfectly.
As the salad rests, the amazing juices seep into the rusks making them mouthfuls from heaven."
Morito's Cretan Salad
Serves 6-8 as a sharing plate
1 red horn pepper, halved lengthways, deseeded and cut into long thin strips
1 bunch English asparagus (about 10 spears), cut in half lengthways (with care!)
250g ripe cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 medium cucumber, diced
1 red onion, peeled, cut in halve and sliced thinly
1 long green pepper, deseeded and sliced into rounds
1 long red radish, cut into slithers (I use a potato peeler)
1 large Cretan barley rusk (traditional hardened bread), broken into bite size pieces
One small handful green olives
1 tbsp capers in brine
1 tsp wild dried oregano
100g Cretan mizithra cheese (fresh curd)
50g Cretan graviera cheese, grated on the coarse side of a box grater
100ml extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp aged red wine vinegar
sea salt to taste
Toss the asparagus in one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt. Heat a heavy based pan over medium heat and when hot add the asparagus making sure they are evenly spread out, ideally with not much overlapping. Cook the spears for a couple of minutes and transfer them to a plate. Return the pan to the heat and add the red pepper. Cook this for a bit longer than the asparagus or until the strips are charred all round. It should not take more than 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place them next to the asparagus on the plate until needed.
Add all remaining ingredients into a spacious bowl and give them a gentle but very good mix. Add the asparagus and peppers and mix again with care.
Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning.
When served make sure all the delicious juices are added to the platter as they are the best bit.
-Marianna Leivaditaki, Mortio Hackney Road
* This is a salad that will welcome anything you fancy, all herbs and salad leaves can be included, black olives instead of green, caperberries instead of capers etc.
* If you cannot get your hands on all the listed ingredients go the next closest to them; round green peppers instead of long, round small radishes instead of long, slow oven dried sourdough bread instead of rusks.
*Make sure the vinegar you use is rich and mature and full bodied. It will make a massive difference as will the olive oil being of the best quality.